Smart or smart-ass? IBM’s Watson computer learns to swear

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Published on: January 12, 2013

Published January 11, 2013

  • Man vs Machine ibm takes on Jeopardy

    “Jeopardy!” champions Ken Jennings, left, and Brad Rutter, right, look on as an IBM computer called “Watson” beats them to the buzzer to answer a question during a practice round of the “Jeopardy!” quiz show in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Robots may be more advanced than humans in many ways. They can be faster, more efficient, more mathematical and logical than we are. But their understanding of socially appropriate language is less than elementary.



IBM Watson memorized slang website, Urban Dictionary

Was meant to be exercise in informal human language

Researchers wiped his memory after he began to swear



Which is why Watson — the IBM robot that beat chess champion Garry Kasparov at his own game — had to have his memory wiped after he memorized the entire contents of human slang repository

Urban Dictionary, for those not in the know, is the place you go to if you want to know what a “touron” is (a tourist that is also a moron), or the meaning of “broscience,” (“the predominant brand of reasoning in body-building circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research”).

Watson’s overlords thought the informal colloquial language would be a great way for him to understand the real way that people communicate, Fortune reported.

But much like human language, the site also contains some filthy, filthy words, insults and gross descriptions.

And poor old Watson was unable to distinguish between socially appropriate language, and the kind of things he ought to keep to himself.

The robot began to deploy the word “bullsh*t” in an answer to a researcher’s query.

How rude.

Ultimately the experiment failed and the researchers had to wipe the Urban Dictionary from Watson’s memory.

There will be no inappropriate outbursts of “OMGs” or “WTFs” from, Watson who is currently being used as a diagnostic tool for hospitals.

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